Saturday, November 14, 2009

Layers of regret

A friend. a good friend long since passed from us, once got more than usually annoyed with me when in her cups two hundred miles away and rang me in the middle of the night to give me an ear-bashing. She had decided, quite rightly, that in my timidity and cowardice I was damaging the feelings and self-esteem of a very attractive Scotswoman. And so I was and did.

(It is my way: my problem is that I actually like women very much. When I find my feelings moving from friendship to passion I'm afeared of ruining a friendship by saying something stupid and scaring the poor woman to death. I find it vanishingly unlikely that my feelings would be reciprocated and am consequently very hard work indeed and Extremely Trying To The Patience. The one time in my life that a woman has literally thrown herself at me in a fit of passion I thought she'd slipped on her high heels and that the subsequent tears of anger and frustration meant that she'd hurt her ankle. She reminded me of that for years.)

My friend on the 'phone had seen enough the previous weekend and wasn't going to shilly-shally any:

"Hello love, are you OK? Why are you ringing at this hour?"

"Ooh, you do annoy me! I've decided you need a good talking-to. Are you listening? Next time you see her this is what you do..."

"Oh. Right. Thank you for that. You know, if I'd ever done that to you you'd have given me a thick ear."

"If you'd ever done that to me you'd have deserved a thick ear. Now have you been listening to me? What have I just told you?"


And so on. For another half hour.

I don't know how we got into the habit. I'm not even sure which of us did it the first. Every so often when we'd get together one, other or both of us would bring along the current object of affection for approval. At the first opportunity, one would lean over to the other and whisper: "Well? What do you think?" We'd been doing that for a dozen years before I realised it myself.

My friend was a wonderful mixture of keen intelligence and apparent innocence. As wild as little strawberries, she was a humanising influence on me and she recognised that the attractive Scotswoman was both a civilising influence and somebody who'd put up with a bit of my routine stupidity without indulging me in it. And when I got that last, consoling, kiss on Blackfriars Bridge I realised, too late, that she was dead right.

My friend managd better. We all knew when she finally found the elusive "Mr. Right." As they told me stories of their adventures and their plans for adventures to come I leaned over to her, winked and whispered: "He's the one."

"Oh yes? How are you so sure?"

"You let him call you 'babe'."

Losing somebody at sea is a strange thing. It sounds like carelessness and there is no ceremony of closure. I find it difficult to let go at the best of times and the fantasy of its being an unfortunate happenstance with a happy ending was a difficult one to chase away. How long was Alexander Selkirk on that island? In my dreams I'd have a million-and-one questions, nearly all of which would already have been asked in wearisome and/or distressing detail. And in my dreams I'd just ask the one question: "have you time for a cup of tea?"

In a sane and just world she'd be surrounded by cats and kids and empty yoghurt pots with odds and ends stuffed in them. It isn't and she isn't and it is to be regretted.

18 comments:

Red Squirrel said...

That's a truly great post mate.

Gaw said...

Very moving and affectionate Kevin. An in memoriam that would have delighted I'm sure.

Jimmy Bastard said...

A fitting tribute Kevin, and one that simplifies the importance of memories and friends.

Scarlet Blue said...

You sound like you'd make a very good best friend.
Sx

Gadjo Dilo said...

Mmm, very moving mate. Try not to have regrets though, just experiences - at least that's what I tell myself.

Madame DeFarge said...

One of the finest things you could ever write about someone and about yourself for that matter. You continue to be someone worth knowing more about.

savannah said...

a beautiful tribute to a friend, sugar. i am sorry for your loss. you have my heart, darlin. xoxoxo

Scarlett Parrish said...

I now has a sadz. :(

Nothing to add to what others have said, but that I think it's a poignant, moving post.

Lulu LaBonne said...

That is sad and lovely.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Thanks all for that. I've been tiptoeing round this post for over a year. I'll try to get back to business as usual a.s.a.p.

inkspot said...

That is a wonderful post Kevin. Don't feel the need to get back to usual business; anything you'd like to write about these things (or anything else) we'd all be glad to read, and moved by the reading, I'm certain.

Kevin Musgrove said...

ta Inky

librarylizzie said...

O. Lovely. *sniff*

Kevin Musgrove said...

you old softie!

nursemyra said...

lovely tribute Kevin

Kevin Musgrove said...

Ta nursie!

Kane said...

What you wrote is beautiful. Reminds me how finite life is.

Kane

Kevin Musgrove said...

Thanks Kane